EXTRA cash is set to be ploughed into Hampshire in a bid to rid its streets of knife crime.

The county’s police force is the latest to be included in a national programme to tackle the menace of youngsters carrying knives.

The Tackling Knives Action Programme (TKAP) sets out to provide a targeted approach to knife crime and serious youth violence as part of the Government’s wider plan to crack down on the minority of young people who commit violent crime.

TKAP hopes to help 13 to 24-year-olds, who are at risk of falling into knife crime, by conducting high-profile searches and engaging them in education programmes.

Announcing that Hampshire would be included in the programme, Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said: “Knife crime and all forms of serious youth violence damage communities, destroy lives and rob families of hope.

“It is completely unacceptable and we will not stand by. We will continue to take tough action, across police work, tougher sentencing, and stronger prevention, to make our streets safer and send a clear message to the minority of young people involved in violence that they will not get away with it.”

Hampshire’s Chief Constable, Alex Marshall, welcomed the county’s inclusion in the programme.

“Intervention at younger ages gives the police service a valuable opportunity to divert young people away from crime and this will pay dividends for years to come,” he said.

The moves comes after Southampton launched its own knife campaign, backed by the Daily Echo, following the deaths of a number of young people in the city from stab wounds.

As part of Operation Sharp, schools have been issued with airport-style security wands while high-profile stop and search operations have been undertaken.

Undercover exercises using youngsters to see if they can buy knives in the city’s stores have also been organised.